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New vs. Refurbished: Which Forklift is Right for The Job?

When investing in a forklift for your material handling operations, seriously considering your options is key. Whether you’re working outdoors in harsh conditions or navigating the narrow aisles of a warehouse, you need the right equipment.

Andrew Hamilton

At Mitsubishi Forklift Trucks, we offer both new and refurbished equipment. Both have their merits and their place in your operations, but before making that decision, it’s important to ensure you’ve explored all the various factors. In this article, we will discuss new vs. refurbished forklifts and how they compare in terms of cost, application, sustainability, and TCO (total cost of operation).


There are a number of different considerations when it comes to the cost of buying, renting, or leasing a new or refurbished forklift truck. If you’re a company that has a capital expenditure budget, you may have the money to invest in a new forklift truck or buy one outright. If your business manages purchases with an OpEx (operating expenses) budget, you might not think your financial resources can justify investing in a brand-new forklift.

Whatever your budget, it’s important to factor in costs that go further than just the initial investment. For example, a refurbished machine may be cheaper at the initial point of purchase, but it could cost more over time as an older piece of equipment may be less efficient. Additionally, with a refurbished forklift, you’re more limited in terms of modifications. If your operations change, and your fleet or truck requires modifications or updates, some refurbished trucks may not manage to accommodate this. This increases the outlay as additional equipment will be needed. 

New forklift trucks can be made to measure, giving you confidence in your operations and improving efficiency. At Mitsubishi Forklift Trucks, we follow a consultative approach. The trucks we put out in the field are bespoke and tailored to suit a customer's working environment and needs, rather than being an off-the-shelf product. With refurbished trucks, you’re buying a standard product and so finding the best specification might be tough. Our approach offers made-to-measure designs with the factory to suit specific applications that provide you with cost savings over time.

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Refurbished forklifts may already have five years of experience in a warehouse or on a work site. During this time, they will have undergone intense labour, which will impact their ability to work as efficiently as their new counterparts.

Many material handling operations involve cold store work which adds stress to the equipment. With labour-intensive multiple shifts and working in cold or fluctuating temperatures, it’s likely that those forklift trucks will have to be replaced at a certain point. Once this point is reached, it would make financial and operational sense to invest in a newer truck for reliability purposes.

VELiA order pickers in cold store

New forklift trucks come with the benefit of added reliability, robustness and recent updates. This could be in terms of design, software, compliance updates, or functional or ergonomic features. They are far less likely to break down or increase downtime than a machine that has been working tirelessly in a harsh or load-heavy environment. In addition to this, you can still invest in a new forklift truck whilst taking a flexible approach regarding ownership, rental or leasing. At Mitsubishi Forklift Trucks, we offer these choices as well as a lease purchase option where the rental rate is higher, but once the contract ends, the customer can take ownership.

Suitable material handling equipment will reduce labour costs and, at the same time, enhance safety, minimising the costs associated with workplace injuries.


Producing new trucks comes with environmental considerations surrounding the manufacturing process due to energy cost and carbon emissions. With this in mind, refurbished trucks are arguably more sustainable as their life is prolonged, reducing the need to manufacture a new model.

That being said, once a forklift truck reaches the end of its life, many parts of the machine – such as the metal and the lead-acid batteries – can be recycled.

New electric trucks often run more efficiently than refurbished vehicles, using less energy to complete tasks than older forklift trucks. Whilst the manufacturing of new trucks uses energy, a new electric truck is more sustainable than a refurbished truck that runs on diesel or LPG (Liquefied Petroleum Gas). Electric trucks reduce CO2 emissions and are far quieter than diesel or LPG forklifts, ensuring a more sustainable, healthy environment for both your warehouse operators and the wider world.

EDiA-XL electric counterbalance wins Red Dot Award


TCO is the overall cost of a piece of equipment over time or throughout its lifecycle. TCO takes into account the initial purchase price plus the costs that are incurred in operation – that means maintenance, servicing, energy consumption, modifications or upgrades, and more.

When investing in a refurbished forklift, the customer would need to be aware of the potential for a false economy – an initial financial saving that can lead to greater expenditure in the future. 

Refurbished machines are more likely to break down or need replacements than new trucks, so the increased need for maintenance and servicing will incur costs. For example, say you have a delivery set for 3 weeks before Christmas – your busy period – if your refurbished machine breaks down that can cost you significantly regarding a loss of products and business.

Cost-cutting is not something companies shy away from, understandably. Particularly if you view warehouse logistics as a business expense rather than a vital component in the organisational machine. Warehouse operators are an essential part of any business within material handling. To work safely, comfortably, and efficiently, they require the right equipment. Investing in reliable equipment will increase uptime, maximise productivity and, overall, reduce your TCO.

which forklift is right for the job?

The most important thing is finding the right truck. Whether it’s a factory or manufacturer refurbished machine or a new forklift truck, if it’s suitable for your material handling operations and maximises productivity, then it’s right for you.

Engaging with a partner, someone who will advise rather than simply sell, can be advantageous. Every material handling operation has specific applications and requirements. Mitsubishi Forklift Trucks takes you through that process to identify which equipment is best for your operations and needs and will improve your TCO.

To discover which equipment would be best for your operation, get in touch with one of our experts here  and we will help to find the most suitable solution for you.  Get in touch with us here for advice, information, products or services.